Western Watersheds Project v. Kraayenbrink

632 F.3d 472 (2011)

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Western Watersheds Project v. Kraayenbrink

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
632 F.3d 472 (2011)

  • Written by Tanya Munson, JD

Facts

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was the federal agency responsible for overseeing livestock grazing on public land. In 1995, under the Taylor Grazing Act of 1943, the BLM had adopted regulations to implement its grazing-management responsibilities (the 1995 regulations). In 2006, the secretary of the Interior proposed 18 amendments to the BLM’s grazing regulations (the 2006 regulations). The 1995 regulations required the BLM to take corrective action upon finding a violation of ecological criteria all public lands had to meet outlined in the Fundamentals of Rangeland Health. The 2006 regulations eliminated the Fundamentals of Rangeland health. Under the 2006 regulations, the only enforceable standards were the Standards and Guidelines for Grazing Administration, and the BLM was given more time to respond to violations. The 2006 regulations also reduced public oversight and increased monitoring requirements. The BLM prepared an environmental-impact statement (EIS) according to requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), other agencies, and even the BLM’s own experts raised concerns about various environmental consequences of the 2006 regulation. In its final EIS, the BLM did not address the concerns raised by the other agencies and downplayed the environmental impacts of the 2006 regulations. The BLM argued that the changes in the 2006 regulations were brought about to improve efficiency and speculated the changes would make grazing administration more effective. The Western Watersheds Project (plaintiff) challenged the 2006 regulations, arguing that the BLM violated NEPA by failing to take the required hard look at the environmental effects of the proposed regulations. Western Watersheds Project moved for summary judgment, and the motion was granted.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Paez, J.)

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